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Rob Smaal

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Lee's blast lifts Giants

by Rob Smaal (Jul 28, 2008)

It looks as if the Yomiuri Giants' version of Steve Austin has been rebuilt and is ready for action again.

After spending most of the past three months on the farm getting his body and game in order, the Giants' "Six Million Dollar Man" Lee Seung Yeop got his first hit since being recalled to the top club earlier in the week, and it was a big one. Lee's towering solo homer to straightaway center helped Yomiuri lay a 7-0 shellacking on the Yakult Swallows on Sunday afternoon at Tokyo Dome as the Giants completed a three-game sweep of their neighbors.

"My first home run (this season) was a long time coming," said Lee, whose $6 million (600 million yen) salary this season makes him the highest-paid player on a team stocked with highly paid players. "It sure felt good, especially coming here at Tokyo Dome."

Michihiro Ogasawara drove in a pair of runs and starter Hiroshi Kisanuki (6-3) combined with three relievers to shut out the Swallows, who have now lost four straight.

Right-hander Kisanuki worked six innings, allowing five hits while striking out four and not issuing a base on balls. Kentaro Nishimura, Soichi Fujita and Shun Tono limited the Swallows to just one hit over the final three frames.

"I pitched today with the thought of keeping our winning streak going," said Kisanuki, whose Giants have now won four in a row. "It's also nice to see that we're at a season-high nine games over .500."

Swallows righty Ryo Kawashima (5-4) took the loss after giving up five runs on eight hits through six innings. He whiffed five and walked three.

The Giants, who still trail the Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers, picked up their 50th win of the season to improve to 50-41-2 on the season. Yakult, meanwhile, fell to 42-46-2.

Ogasawara drove in the game's first run in the first inning, scoring Takahiro Suzuki on an infield groundout after the pesky leadoff hitter had drawn a walk, stolen second and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt.

Suzuki smacked an RBI single to center in the second inning and Ogasawara's opposite-field run-scoring double off the wall in left gave Yomiuri a 3-0 lead.

Lee led off the sixth by driving a Kawashima fastball down the middle an estimated 145 meters over the fence in center field. Later in the inning, pinch-hitter Tomohiro Nioka flared an RBI single to right.

In the seventh, Yoshiyuki Kamei hit an RBI double over Swallows center-fielder Norichika Aoki off reliever Masaru Sato and pinch-hitter Noriyoshi Omichi brought him home with an RBI double of his own to the gap in left-center to cap the scoring.

Lee, who will suit up for South Korea at the Beijing Olympics, hit 30 HRs last season for Yomiuri after cranking out 41 in 2006. This season, however, he has struggled mightily at the plate. Limited to just 17 games with the big club through nagging injuries and poor play, Lee is hitting just .129 so far this campaign.


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